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A Comparison of Military and Commercial Submersible Systems, Cost Environments, and Methods for Estimating Submersible Development and Production Costs

Models and Methods Track



The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOCOM) have established requirements for wet and dry submersible vehicles capable of transporting combat teams and their equipments to and from the shoreline of enemy territory. The submersibles are carried to the vicinity of the enemy either by surface vessels or mounted upon the decks of fleet attack submarines. A recent high profile program, the Advanced Seal Delivery System (ASDS), was initiated to be the principal vehicle for performing this kind of mission. A fleet of as many as six or eight of the 55 ton units was planned. The program, however, encountered severe difficulties and cost overruns, and was terminated after the first unit was delivered. In recent years, a new commercial industry has emerged that develops and produces submersible systems for a variety of private and non-military government users. These uses include undersea tourism, recreational pursuits of the rich and famous, undersea archeology, fisheries management, environmental surveillance, mapping, and other purposes. The cost of these commercial submersible systems is reputed to be a fraction of typical NAVY developments, and this study documents and compares these cost differences. The U.S. Navy, after its ASDS experience, is interested in learning and applying any lessons that can be learned from the commercial operations, and thereby improving the affordability of its acquisition programs. To some extent, the NAVY may find that its normal development and oversight practices are at the center of its affordability problem, and some may need to be reformed or set aside. A product of this study is a parametric cost model for submersible systems. Although only a few (5) commercial programs were available for study, a substantial amount of information was conveyed to the study team by these companies. On the Government side, the ASDS was an important point of study and comparison but the Seal Delivery Vehicle (SDV), another NAVY submersible system, was also studied.

The study was conducted by the US Navy and MCR LLC. The detailed development and production commercial cost data was provided by two corporations interested in developing business opportunities with the Government. Techniques were developed to extrapolate and parse cost information into a standard MIL-STD-881B work breakdown structure. The costs were normalized to constant FY2010 dollars and combined with a common set of technical characteristics. Statistical analysis was used to create a family of cost estimating relationships (CERs) that could be combined to create a submersible cost model that provides estimates for government program environments, commercial program environments, and hybrid s program environments. Using these tools requires considerable informed judgment as well as a detailed knowledge of specific program plans and technical strategies. The study provides an estimating procedure and a rational approach to understanding and estimating conceptual submersible system costs. Further, a feature of the study was to advise NAVY program management of the likely costs for procuring a commercial submersible as available “off the shelf” or incorporating increasing levels of added military subsystem content and military optimization.


Janet Vacca-LeBoeuf
U.S. Navy (NELO)
Ms. Vacca-LeBoeuf is the Associate Director of the Cost Analysis and Estimating Directorate (CAED) for the Navy Engineering Logistics Office (NELO). In this capacity, she advises NELO on cost issues, develops cost estimates and assessments, and contributes to the hiring/training of the CAED staff.
Prior to her current position, Ms. Vacca-LeBoeuf served in multiple capacities within NELO. These positions included cost analyst, team leader, director of the research methods branch and supervisor/division head of various CAED branches. She and her staff performed cost analyses on classified programs and conducted numerous special studies.
Prior to joining the federal government, Ms. Vacca-LeBoeuf was employed by various educational institutions, including Sogex International Shool in Saudi Arabia, Rhode Island College, North Providence School Department and Harvard University.
Ms. Vacca-LeBoeuf earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Rhode Island College and a Masters degree from Harvard University. She also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island (1985) and a Masters degree in National Security/Strategic Studies from the Navy War College (1999). She is DAWIA Level II certified Systems Engineering Research Development and Evaluation (SPRDE), as well as Level III certified in Program Management (PM) and in Business Cost Estimating (BUS-CE). Ms. Vacca-LeBoeuf is a graduate of the Defense Leadership and Management Program (DLAMP) and a recipient of the Department of Navy Meritorious Civilian Award.

Greg C. Bell
Greg Bell is a senior affordability engineer, conducting life cycle cost analyses and developing conceptual cost models for Systems Analysis organizations. His specialty is the preparation of life cycle cost figures in conceptual and preliminary design environments, development of CAIV studies in conjunction with other engineering disciplines, and creation of design to cost targets and should cost estimates based upon industry benchmarks. He has been involved with large military and civil aircraft programs, sensor and C4ISR aircraft, ground electronic systems, missiles, manned and unmanned spacecraft, and logistics services and information systems. His background includes 35 years in the cost modeling and industrial engineering fields. From 1995 through 1997, he worked for the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). Bell has developed a network of expert friends and associates that continues to provide support and insight. Greg has also worked on international programs (Greece, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Netherlands) and has provided international aerospace cost models to the U.S. intelligence community.

Brian Harris
U.S. Navy
Mr. Harris is Operations Research Analyst for the Cost Analysis and Estimating Directorate (CAED) for the Navy Engineering Logistics Office (NELO). In this capacity, he develops cost estimates and assessments, and assists program offices with Earned Value Management.
Mr. Harris earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Wittenberg University. He is DAWIA Level I certified in Business Cost Estimating (BUS-CE).